Lobel Shares Civil Liberties Book Prize

Issue Date: 
November 12, 2007

Coauthors say U.S. “losing war on terror”

Jules L. Lobel, a University of Pittsburgh professor of law, and colleague David D. Cole have won the inaugural Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize from the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology for their book Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (The New Press, 2007).

Lobel and Cole, a professor of law at Georgetown University, will share a $10,000 prize and give a spring 2008 presentation at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

The prize was established earlier this year by Chicago-Kent alumnus Roy C. Palmer, a lawyer and real estate developer, and his wife, Susan M. Palmer, to honor an exemplary work of scholarship that explores the tension between civil liberties and national security in contemporary American society.

In the book, the authors, who are constitutional law scholars, argue that the United States’ war on terrorism has foundered because of what they term the particularly aggressive “preventive paradigm” that the Bush Administration adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Lobel and Cole set out to show that what they call “preemptive coercion” has not only compromised the rule of law in the name of prevention but also has made the United States more susceptible to future terrorist attacks.

The authors suggest that the way to keep America safe and free is to employ noncoercive measures and multilateral cooperation, relying on foreign relations rather than military might.

And, the authors propose, where coercion is necessary and appropriate, America must adhere to basic legal rules, treating the rule of law as an asset in the struggle to keep citizens safe and free.

Lobel, professor of international and constitutional law in Pitt’s School of Law, also is vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national civil and human rights organization. He has been one of the foremost legal challengers of what he calls the exercise of unilateral presidential war-making for the past two decades.

Lobel also is author of Success Without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America (New York University Press, 2004).

Cole, in addition to teaching at Georgetown University, is the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and the author of Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism (The New Press, 2003), which won the American Book Award.